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August 18, 2022  |  Sports & Fitness

BMX is the summer fitness routine you didn’t know you were missing

BMX riding is a thrilling, energetic sport. From jumping ramps and obstacles on paved courses to kicking up dirt on wooded trails, BMX offers adrenaline junkies a fun and healthy outlet.

While it may seem highly specialized, the barrier to entry for BMX riding is quite low. With just a few essential items, you can start your thrilling new workout regimen in no time.

What is BMX?

Short for “bicycle motocross,” BMX originated in California in the 1970s. It combines off-road racing, trick riding and ramp jumping. The acronym is used to refer to the sport itself as well as the bicycles that are specifically designed for it. 

BMX bike features

BMX bikes look similar to others at first glance, but they include a variety of characteristics that set them apart from more complicated street and mountain bikes. Their simple design emphasizes durability and ruggedness over comfort and flexibility.

  • Stout, thick frame. BMX bikes are built for the abuse of off-road riding. Because of this, their frames are made to take a beating without needing consistent maintenance or repairs. They are also small enough to swiftly maneuver over ramps, hills and around obstacles like trees and ditches. 
  • Only one gear. Most BMX bikes don’t have gears to switch in and out of. Mechanical parts likely wouldn’t survive the mud and dirt that most riders find themselves covered in. BMX courses emphasize quick, powerful bursts of movement as opposed to long-distance endurance.
  • Brakes. BMX bikes usually only have a single brake in the back as opposed to the dual brakes found on other bicycles. Some BMX bikes don’t have a brake at all, with riders stopping their momentum with their feet or by backpedaling. 

Health benefits of BMX

BMX riding engages your mind and body alike, creating an exciting experience that many people find themselves hooked on. 

  • Heart health. BMX offers an excellent cardiovascular workout. Regular riding will improve your circulation and endurance. If you already enjoy cycling and are looking for a way to add some adrenaline to your routine, BMX is the perfect solution. 
  • Mental health. All exercise can improve your mood and general well-being, as your brain releases dopamine during athletic activity. Because BMX requires a consistent level of awareness, it's a great way to keep your mind focused and your head clear. 
  • Lower back. BMX riding keeps your lower back in a position that requires consistent muscle engagement. Sufferers of back pain may find relief as they build strength.
  • Weight loss. Burning all those calories will help keep you trim. You may also find that biking itself becomes easier as you lose weight. Additionally, because BMX riding is different every time, you are less likely to get bored or burned out.
  • Joints. BMX riding strengthens your bones and improves flexibility.
  • Muscle growth. Pedaling is hard work. Incorporating BMX into your life will result in muscle growth in your core and lower body. No one will be asking you if you skip leg day!

What you need to get started with BMX

BMX bike

Thanks to the sport’s popularity, BMX bikes are readily available in sporting goods stores, big box department stores and specialty bicycle shops. As a beginner, you can expect to spend $200-$400 on a BMX bike that you can customize to your liking as you advance in the sport.

Helmet

A helmet is essential to your safety while riding. BMX helmets are sturdier and provide more coverage than traditional biking helmets. Some look like skateboarding helmets and others are more akin to those worn by motorcycle riders. Your personal preference and your riding style will determine what helmet works best for you.

Pads

Your knees, wrists and elbows are likely to take a beating if you don’t protect them. Falls, scrapes and scratches from sticks or stones are all part of what makes BMX such an adrenaline rush.

Gloves

Gloves will help prevent blisters and soreness from gripping your bike's handlebars. They also feature hard plastic plates that protect your knuckles from light impacts.

Shoes

Your feet will be under a lot of pressure as you ride. From stopping your bike to pedaling, specialized BMX and skateboarding shoes are built for the wear and tear of extreme sports.

Best BMX equipment

Top BMX bikes

Mongoose BMX-Bicycles Legion BMX

What you need to know: This entry-level BMX bike comes in six colors.

What you’ll love: Available in two sizes, this bike features a steel chainring, a steel frame and pegs on its front and back wheels. Its brake lever and handlebars are designed to provide great maneuverability and stopping power.

What you should consider: Some buyers express disappointment with the shortness and quality of this bike’s brake cable.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Mongoose Kids' 20" Axios Pro BMX Bike

What you need to know: This bike’s neon yellow color will set you apart from the pack.

What you’ll love: Built for beginners, this BMX bike features robust construction and good looks at an affordable price. Aggressive tires and steel wheel frames make it a reliable ride.

What you should consider: This bike is only available in one size and color.

Where to buy: Sold by Dick's Sporting Goods 

Top BMX helmet

Triple Eight Sweatsaver Helmet

What you need to know: Available in 24 colors and patterns, this helmet is great for riders of all levels.

What you’ll love: This helmet features plush, removable liners for comfort and sweat absorption. From roller derby to skateboarding, this helmet is endorsed by professionals including Tony Hawk.

What you should consider: This helmet is not specifically designed for BMX and therefore doesn’t have the iconic look that some buyers might be looking for.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Top BMX pads

Triple Eight Saver Series Adult/Child Pad Set 

What you need to know: Protect your joints with this full set of pads. 

What you’ll love: With four sizes and six colors to choose from, these pads are great for cyclists of all sizes. They feature two adjustable straps to ensure the perfect fit and thick caps for absorbing impact. 

What you should consider: These pads run small, so choose a size or two larger than you think you will need.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top BMX gloves

Fox Racing Dirtpaw Motocross Glove

What you need to know: These gloves from one of the most trusted brands in motocross come in three colors.

What you’ll love: Light and breathable, these gloves will keep your hands protected, thanks to their padding and plastic plates. There are six sizes to choose from. 

What you should consider: Some buyers are disappointed with the quality of seam construction in these gloves.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top BMX shoes

DC Pure Casual Low Top Skate Shoe

What you need to know: These skate shoes from DC are perfect for pedaling and stopping.

What you’ll love: Featuring thick soles and robust padding, these shoes are great for keeping your toes, ankles and feet protected from impact. They’re available in 10 colors. 

What you should consider: BMX riders who prefer mud and dirt over paved courses may want to find a shoe better suited to wet conditions.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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